PAINT like an Interior Designer


Colour is without doubt one of the strongest Design tools available to both a Designer or Homeowner. The boldness, subtlety, absence or way in which colour is used can literally create any Design effect, Style or Theme required for a space. When approaching how to “use colour”, it is entirely a personal preference and comes down to your desired feel and style for your space. This is why EVERY Interior Designer knows that Paint is the singular most trans-formative tool available for your home.  (For a BOLD pop of colour check out this feature)

The magic of Paint is immediate, whether highlighting the architectural detail of a room, emphasizing its size or concealing its diminutive portions, accenting furniture or simply adding a splash of freshness, sexiness, luxury or sophistication. The 1990’s/2000’s all beige limitations left spaces feeling unfinished, “un-lived” and most significantly, unloved.

A colour blocked wall in a Hot Pink.  Razzle Dazzle by the essential Benjamin Moore is shown above… for a deeper more earthier pink try BEET by Martha Stewart Paint (now discontinued but her paint palette lives on) it will give your space a sexy richness and personality.

This all white space is given impact and vitality with the simple addition of painting the door canary yellow.

When going to select Paint colours the trick to making sure a colour will actually work in your space is to test it first. Buy tester pots and splash up a 2′ by 2′ square on the various walls you are going to paint to see how the colour is effected by the light in your space and how the various other elements react to and with the colour. How light filters into your room, whether scorching sun or entirely artificial in source, will effect the colour and you need to see this first hand.

Elle Decor Winters 3

This stunning space by Designer Megan Winters via ELLE DECOR

Throw away old tales of dark colours shrinking a room; this is entirely false and in fact a rich or saturated colour adds complexity, warmth and richness and actually makes walls recede. This is why in smaller rooms try painting your focal wall a rich colour, then painting the other walls your flow colour (the overall colour used throughout your home for walls to give continuity), this is known as Colour Blocking.

Colour on the ceiling (2)

Think outside the box… try painting the “5th wall” a colour (in this case California Breeze by Benjamin Moore)

Often when painting, we use a colour on the walls and white gloss on woodwork, the same white that we use on the ceiling. This is a HUGE mistake as it focuses all your attention on your ceiling, making it your focal point. Ceilings should always be a creamier less white tone than your trim (try Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White in ultra flat latex) or try using an ultra pale version of your wall colour as well (OR go white walls and a bold colour on the ceiling). By choosing a soft creamier white than your trim your ceiling will actually recede and give the allusion your ceilings are much taller than they actually are, just make sure to use an ultra flat paint. A Designer trick to create light, space and sharpness is to use a pale fresh colour on the walls and a dark tone on woodwork (such as Francesca by Martha Stewart Paint, a bold and striking soft black). This gives a space a more ‘Designer’ feel. The use of a dark colour on skirting boards not only makes the walls appear lighter in contrast, it gives a space a more ‘designer’ feel while also creating a strong contemporary look making everything above it feel lighter by contrast. Speaking of trim, try using Benjamin Moore’s Oxford White to give a sharp, fresh and tailored look to your home.

This bland box was given Architectural interest with the creation of the box on the ceiling and painting the inner area the bold red and then adding the stripes with the circular punch-outs on the wall for the round mirrors to sit into.  The space became dynamic, exciting and purposeful.

If your hesitant about which room to begin introducing colour try your Dining Room first. Rich, dark or saturated colours work beautifully in Dining Rooms as they intensify their sense of drama and increase their intimate atmosphere. Colours such as Eating Room Red by Farrow & Ball or Haitian Flower by Behr work especially well to create intrigue while also showcasing architectural features (mouldings, fireplaces or chandeliers). As we often use our Dining room at night the rich tones are intensified by the light and take on a jewel like depth. Another room/area with walls just begging for a rich lick of colour is your Entrance hall thereby adding a touch of decadence. Entrance halls are by nature an area where you don’t spend a lot of time, it’s a great opportunity to be brave and use a really exciting colour. For Designer impact try using a high shine Full Gloss on the walls. Colours such as Coffee, Lafayette or Pink Sky (all by Ralph Lauren) work beautifully when mixed with lots of white woodwork and mouldings in traditional spaces or colour blocked on one wall in high-gloss in modern spaces with framed artwork grouped on it.

Remember to think about how and why you use each space in your home and then imagine how you would LIKE to use the space and what inspires you and would either add zest or zen to your life, and then boldly make the decision to paint. Add a real Designer feeling by painting a feature wall a rich dramatic colour and then accent it with pale creamy tones, paint a dark or bright colour on a wall featuring framed art or objects to make them really pop and give a sense of drama, try painting a study wall in various width stripes of contrasting or complimentary colours (make sure to vary the thicknesses to make them feel organic) or to hide a large coloured sofa paint the wall behind it in the same colour and then accent it with rich pale silk cushions to make the room feel less cluttered and heavy. Life is not a Dress Rehearsal, live it to its fullest and set the stage for the life you desire. In other words, get Painting.

Yellow Barn DoorA barn door was added to this space a painted a stunning yellow called YELLOW FINCH by Benjamin Moore giving the space a modern, fresh and sexy impact.

Pantone Emerald Green Room

Be BRAVE & BOLD and try painting a room in a Lacquer finish to give a HIGH Glam look and sensibility.

eclectic layered with rich colours

Elle Decor emerald green 2013

A black ceiling via ELLE DECOR

Stunning design by Frederico de Vera in ELLE DECOR

Dramatic Design by Frederico de Vera via Elle Decor

Guggenheim Paint - room interior GLOSS CEZANNE

Entrance hall using the Guggenheim paint collection by Miles Redd